Merck KGaA prepares for fresh investment in Israel's QLight
TEL AVIV Oct 2 (Reuters) - Merck KGaA is moving forward with plans to increase its stake in Jerusalem-based start-up QLight Nanotech, which develops products for use in displays and energy-efficient light sources.
QLight, whose products are based on semiconductor nanoparticles called quantum dots, is a spin-off subsidiary of Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Merck first invested in QLight in 2012, though the companies have not disclosed details of the investment. The agreement called for an additional investment by Merck upon QLight reaching certain development milestones.
"There is ongoing discussion on the next round of investment," Bernd Reckmann, head of Merck's chemicals division, told Reuters during a visit to Israel. "It has not yet been decided."
QLight, established in 2009, and Merck have been carrying out joint research into this new class of materials for several years as part of a partnership programme supported by Israel's Office of the Chief Scientist.
The new technology will help to innovate the LCD display market, said Reckmann.
"It gives tools to improve the quality of the picture in brightness and colour range," he said. The technology also helps cut energy consumption of flat screen TVs, Merck said.
While LCD (liquid crystal display) is one of Merck's biggest cash generators, the German group is also investing in OLED, a display technology that could succeed LCD.
Organic light-emitting diode displays are thinner, more energy efficient and offer higher-contrast images than LCD.
"OLED is still the only technology which has the potential to take market share in the display arena from LCD but it's still in its infancy. There are a lot of technical challenges, especially on the manufacturing side," Reckmann said.
Analysts believe OLED will not take significant share - 10 percent or more - of the display market before 2017-2018.
The success of technologies such as QLight's in innovating the LCD market will also make it more difficult for OLED, Reckmann added. (Reporting by Tova Cohen)
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